On May 7, the Department issued Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2012-02, which provides guidance to its field enforcement personnel in question and answer format on the obligations of plan administrators under a final regulation to improve transparency of fees and expenses to workers with 401(k)–type retirement plans (see “DOL Issues Additional Guidance for Participant Fee Disclosures”). Some plan sponsors and service providers asked questions about statements in Question 30 regarding brokerage windows and other arrangements that enable plan participants and beneficiaries to select investments beyond those designated by the plan (see “DOL’s Answer in Fee Disclosure Guidance ‘Surprising’”).
The Department decided to issue Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2012-02R to further clarify its position and to give interested parties more time to engage in discussions with the Department on practical and cost effective ways to ensure participants and beneficiaries receive all the fiduciary protections afforded to them under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) when they use brokerage windows and other similar arrangements, including, if appropriate, through amendment of relevant regulatory provisions.